More than 103 million Americans — the most on record — are expected to travel ahead of Christmas Eve through New Year’s Day.

The forecast number represents a 1.5 percent increase, or 1.5 million more people traveling, compared with last year, despite one fewer travel day this holiday season, according to AAA.

More than 90 percent will drive to their holiday destinations, but about 6 percent will fly, reflecting a 2.5 percent increase from last year, AAA says.

AAA had predicted a small drop in Thanksgiving holiday air travel in Arizona. But Tucson International Airport reports that travel was up about 5 percent from last year.

This year’s peak travel days are spread out over the Thursdays and Fridays before and after the holidays, when airlines have scheduled about 15 percent more flights, TIA officials said.

Check out these time-saving tips for a smooth travel experience:

  • Arrive 90 minutes ahead of your scheduled departure, allowing for ample time to check-in, check baggage, get through Transportation Security Administration security and be at your gate in time for boarding, which usually begins 30 minutes before departure. At certain times, the recommendation is to arrive 2 hours ahead of departure due to TSA wait times.
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  • where notices will be posted if passengers need to add extra time for check-in and security. For instance, this holiday season, the busiest hours are for departures from 6 to 8:30 a.m. and in the afternoon from 1:30 to 3.
  • Have a Samsung Galaxy Note7? Leave it at home. The devices are banned from aircraft and will be confiscated. If you’d like to know what you can bring onto a flight, TSA has an online tool where passengers can ask about specific items. Go to If you are traveling with gifts, don’t wrap them ahead of time. Anything that triggers the screening equipment requires closer inspection by TSA, in which case gift wrap will be removed. Best bet: Wait until you get to your destination to wrap gifts, or ship wrapped gifts.
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  • raveling with tamales? Solid food items are generally allowed in checked or carry-on baggage. TIA suggests freezing food and packing it in a leak-proof plastic bag inside your checked baggage. However, you may be subject to extra screening, and ice or icepacks must be completely frozen or they will not be allowed.

Contact senior reporter David Wichner at or 573-4181.


David joined the Star in 1997, after working as a consumer and business reporter in Phoenix for more than a decade. A graduate of Ohio University, he has covered most business beats focusing on technology, defense and utilities. He has won several awards.